Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass struggles in final two periods against Vermont, losing 6-2

The Minutemen give up five unanswered goals
Matt Skillings
Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts hockey team lost 6-2 to the Vermont Catamounts Saturday night. No. 14 UMass (6-3-1, 2-2-1 Hockey East) got out to a strong first period, but ended up losing and splitting the weekend series with Vermont (3-4-1, 2-3-1 HEA).

The first period featured all the Minutemen’s offensive production, while holding strong on the defensive side as well. UMass headed to the locker room after the first 20 minutes of play with two goals to Vermont’s one.

After a slow middle few minutes, Aydar Suniev gathered the puck low in the right corner of the offensive zone, stretching a pass across the ice to Owen Murray near the left point. Murray took a deep wrister that went wide left and around the Catamounts goal. Suniev was in the right place at the right time, with the puck ending up on his stick by the right post. He roofed the puck into the open net to give the Minutemen an early 1-0 lead at the time.

“I’ve liked [Suniev’s] game all year, and he works hard to get better,” head coach Greg Carvel said. “His details are getting much better; he’s talented with the puck … He’s one of the guys that’s playing the game as hard as he can.”

Vermont suffered two penalties with less than four minutes in the first period and only killed one off. Murray controlled the puck at the point again for UMass, taking another shot that this time make its way on net. The rebound got left for Dans Locmelis to backhand into the back of the net, without needing to even face the net.

“It was a flip-flop of [Friday], I thought we came out, had a good first period and got up 2-0,” Carvel said. “I liked the way we were playing.”

The Minutemen’s power play goal wasn’t the only one of the first frame however, with the Catamounts getting an opportunity on the man-advantage with 47 seconds left. Jérémie Bucheler moved the puck over to Will Zapernick who took a shot that got blocked out front, landing on Joel Määttä’s stick who finished in the open net.

“We were just shooting the puck a little more, and getting down and getting down and getting greasy,” Vermont head coach Steve Wiedler said. “Not really looking for as many pretty powerplay goals that maybe we were looking for early on in the season.”

Vermont got huge production out of multiple forwards on Saturday, none bigger than that of Jens Richards. The sophomore had a hat-trick against UMass, netting one in the second period and two more in the third, including an empty-netter.

Jérémie Bucheler had two goals for the Catamounts as well, finding the back of the net on a mini breakaway and a hard wrister from the high slot. Both of his goals were a part of a three-goal second period for Vermont.

The goal scoring for the Catamounts kept coming throughout the game, with the Minutemen trying a change at goaltender in the middle of the second period, swapping Cole Brady in for Michael Hrabal.

The Minutemen dealt with a few injuries to some key players throughout the game, with Aaron Bohlinger and Nick VanTassell both going down and not returning to the contest.

UMass had a lot of trouble getting offense going in the second and third period, still outshooting Vermont 11-6 in the second, and 13-9 in the third.

“At times, when we got our speed going, I thought we created some good scoring chances,” Carvel said. “I thought we created enough to have more than two goals [Saturday].”

The Minutemen look to bounce back in their upcoming series against the Providence Friars. Game one of the matchup is set for Thursday, Nov. 16. Puck drop from Providence is set for 7 p.m.

“[Vermont] played the way that they should,” Carvel said. “We needed some saves in the second period; and once they got a big lead, they did a real good job just defending and staying above the puck.”

Mike Maynard can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @mikecmaynard.

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